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20 July 2022, 15:30

Belarus slams ICAO's report on Ryanair Flight 4978 incident

An archive photo
An archive photo

MINSK, 20 July (BelTA) – The report released by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident that happened on 23 May 2021 does not stand up to scrutiny, Director of the Aviation Department of the Belarusian Transport and Communications Ministry Artyom Sikorsky told BelTA on 20 July.

ICAO reviewed two matters the other day – the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident in Belarus' skies on 23 May 2021 and Belarus' complaint about consequent actions of European countries, which introduced sanctions against Belarusian civil aviation. ICAO's report on the incident was discussed.

Artyom Sikorsky said: “This report does not stand up to scrutiny. It is categorically unacceptable and discredits ICAO as an international technical body that caters to civil aviation. We strongly disagree with the report. The Russian Federation's official representative, member of the ICAO Council also disagreed with the report either and pointed out a number of errors, inaccuracies, non-aviation and non-objective approaches. All ICAO documents read that any investigation is organized in order to rule out similar incidents in the future instead of finding the guilty parties. But at present the so-called phone extremism is a threat to aviation safety. It is an objective problem that ICAO should take care of.”

Sikorsky comments on ICAO's report into Ryanair incidentSikorsky comments on ICAO
"On January 17 at 23h20 the Aviation Department received a working document and the fact-finding report into the event involving Ryanair flight in Belarus airspace on 23 May 2021. The document is done in English, and is 64 pages long. We are now carefully analyzing it, identifying inaccuracies that require adjusting," Artyom Sikorsky said. The report is to be considered at the ICAO session on 31 January.
Belarus points out gaps in ICAO's report on Ryanair FR4978 flight incidentBelarus points out gaps in ICAO
Artyom Sikorsky said: “It is necessary to note that the report contains distinct statements saying that Belarus did not intercept the aircraft, did not force it land, and did not take actions to change the aircraft's course.”

According to Artyom Sikorsky, the report on the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident was ready back in January 2022. It stipulated that the aircraft had not been intercepted. “However, a number of Western countries were dissatisfied with this aspect and due to the pressure on their part the ICAO team was told to cover all the so-called gaps in this matter. However, the ICAO team requested no additional information from Belarus. However, the final report that Belarus absolutely disagrees with contains new data. The ICAO team stated that with assistance of the USA and Poland they have managed to obtain information from an air traffic controller, whose name is not specified. After that the report started to look like some pulp fiction,” Artyom Sikorsky said.

The official went on saying: “Many things do not stand up to scrutiny. For instance, the report claims the air traffic controller had a phone and he turned on audio recording without taking the phone from his pocket. You have to understand that a phone can interfere with the operation of sophisticated equipment. There are also security considerations – an air traffic controller should not be distracted by his or her phone and is forbidden to bring one. It is far from the truth, from aviation technology and looks like a fabrication designed to somehow place the blame on Belarus.”

Lukashenko comments on ICAO report into Ryanair incidentLukashenko comments on ICAO report into Ryanair incident
“The best way for them to move forward is to soft-pedal the topic,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Representatives of Belarus and Russia expressed doubts that the record shared by the air traffic controller is genuine. “ICAO responded by saying they do not have the funds to verify the record's authenticity. But ICAO takes Poland and the USA at their word,” Artyom Sikorsky was indignant.

Western countries univocally backed the charges against Belarus. “Although it is difficult to understand what we are accused of. There was a false message in the letter the aircraft crew was informed about. The pilot had to fly to the nearest airfield. Vilnius was that aircraft then. The pilot decided to fly to Minsk,” Artyom Sikorsky said.

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